British Teen Sells Mobile News App ‘Summly’ to Yahoo for $30 Million

Yahoo pays 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio about $30 million for Summly. The Web giant also gains someone who truly thinks and lives in the mobile world.

Summly was founded in late 2011 out of the London home of Nick D’Aloisio, who was then 15 years old. Photo: LeWEB/Flickr

Nick D’Aloisio is young, even by the standards of Silicon Valley’s callow crop of entrepreneurs.

But the British teenager will fit right in with the technology world’s elite after selling his mobile app business in a deal worth tens of millions of dollars.

Nick D’Aloisio, 17, developed the app, called Summly, while revising for his mock GCSEs in 2011.

Yahoo announced Monday it has acquired mobile news aggregator Summly, the latest in a string of acquisitions for mobile product talent. The price of the acquisition was $30 million.

Nick will also start a full-time job at the web giant while he studies for his A-levels.

D’Aloisio, who took a break from school for six months to focus full time on Summly, will join Yahoo’s London office while continuing his studies in the evenings and living at home with his parents.

He says Yahoo plans to integrate Summly into all sorts of mobile experiences, writes the LA Times.

“To me, Yahoo is the best company to be joining right now because it’s one of these classic Internet companies,” D’Aloisio said in an interview.

“With new leadership from Marissa Mayer, Yahoo has a strong focus on mobile and product, and that’s the perfect fit for Summly.”

He also said: “I’m hoping to stay [at Yahoo!] as long as it takes to get the technology integrated.

“We were approached a few months ago and what really excited me was their mobile strategy.

“I think this is an amazing opportunity and I didn’t want to miss it.”

D’Aloisio, who taught himself to write software at age 12, built the free iPhone app Summly — which automatically summarizes news stories for small screens — in his London bedroom in 2011. He was just 15 years old.

“Young people are just not aware of the constraints, so why not go build a social network, for example?”

He added: “I was using Google and Bing and there were so many results to scroll through it was really inefficient.

“So I built an algorithm that shared them and trimmed them. Then it just transformed into the idea of: ‘why not just summarise news in general?’.”

Summly is an iPhone app designed to allow users to quickly find news they’re interested in.

It aggregates and displays snapshots of articles from a variety of news sources using artifical intelligence and natural language processing (more about that here). Users can separate them into customizable categories, like “Art and Design” or “Apple.”

The funding allowed Nick to develop Summly with experts in London and the Stanford Research Institute.

D’Aloisio raised a $300,000 seed round of funding that September form Li Ka-shing and Horizons Ventures, and raised a second, $1.23 million round of funding a year later from a long roster of diverse and recognizable names, including Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, Ashton Kutcher, Yoko Ono and Wendy Murdoch.

D’Aloisio says more than 90 million summaries have been read through the app since its launch in November 2012.

Nick’s mother, a full-time lawyer, became a director and owns shares on his behalf.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s chief executive, has named mobile technology as a top priority for the company.

In January, she said she was focused on technology that will personalize content from the web and deliver it to people on their handheld devices, says the Telegraph.

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